Grand Falls

Waterfalls Detail: In 1686, Monsignor de Saint-Vallier was the first known person to mention in writing the magnificent falls for which Grand Falls is named. Acadian pioneers, French Canadians, the Irish, the Scottish and English Loyalists have all contributed to the development of Grand Falls. In 1791, Thomas Carleton, first Governor of New Brunswick, had a military post built, which was named after him. Known as Colebrooke until 1890, the town was next named Grand Falls because of its great falls. The native name given to Grand Falls was Chicanekapeag, meaning giant destroyer.

Grand Falls is the largest waterfall east of Niagara Falls, dropping from a height of 23 meters (75 feet). The falls powered the local economy as the site of a number of wood mills through the 1800`s, and continue to play a large part in the New Brunswick economy as water rushes up against a dam just above the falls. Completed in 1931 to divert water through a tunnel underneath the main part of town to a hydroelectric generating plant across town the power of the Saint John River provides 66 MW of electricity.

On august 12, 1904, a thirty-six year old native of Maine, named Evangelist Joseph Morrell wrote his name into Grand Falls history. He walked across the waterfall on a cable suspended high over the gorge. Part way across, he did a perfect headstand on the cable and performed other feats of delicate balancing.

In the spring of 2008 the freshet mesmerized New Brunswick by temporally converting the Cataracts into a powerful rapids. The gorge was filled with water rushing through removing any visual of the falls. The power of the spring freshet damaged the generating plant more than a mile down river from the falls and when these pictures were taken the plant was still not operational forcing NB Power to allow water to pass through the gorge.

Visit Detail: I spent more than an hour visiting Grand Falls. First, I walked down the long stairway into the gorge to view the sheer granite walls of the gorge. The attendant at the base of the stairs explained how the power of the river shaped the granite. He also indicated on the steel stairs the level of the water during the spring flood. I quickly estimated that I would be 30 feet under water from the vantage point I occupied. I climbed the long stairs back to the top and walked the trail to the falls and snapped several pictures from the observation decks. From here, I returned to the car and drove over to the interpretation center and photographed the falls from the observation platform. Grand Falls is the largest and most visited of the New Brunswick waterfalls. The sheer size and volume of water is overwhelming to the visitor especially during the spring freshet when the amount of water flowing through the falls is estimated to be in the 100’s of thousands of cubic meters per seconds.